Marriott International Fiji is investing in local talent through the Fiji Marriott Training Academy, which officially launched on April 13.

Started during the pandemic, the intention of the course was to support local talent and build a skilled workforce; and following a soft launch last year, the academy has been revamped with a more strategic focus to address the skills gap in the Fiji tourism industry.

“The pilot program was initiated in close collaboration with the support of the Turaga Na Momo Na Tui Nadi, to train youths from Narewa Village whilst the industry was still closed, and they were employed thereafter marking its initial success,” said Marriott International, Multi Property Vice President Pacific Islands, Neeraj Chadha.

The seven-week course includes 40 hours training per week facilitated by the resort’s department leaders and hospitality experts to with a focus on 30% theory and 70% immersive practical experience. All 42 graduates are in full employment across all Marriott hotels in Fiji.

“From the 42 graduates, 36 joined Sheraton Fiji Golf & Beach Resort and six joined the Sheraton Resort & Spa Tokoriki Island Fiji team in the Mamanuca Islands,” said Marriott International Cluster Director of Human Resources, Farrah Shazleen.

“Fiji Marriott Training Academy will be the hub where you find your rough diamonds and put them through the immense operational pressure producing fine talent who will be ready to engage across all the five hotels in Fiji.”

Tourism accounts for 40% of Fiji’s GDP and employs one in eight locals.

Delivering a keynote address at the launch, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Tourism and Civil Aviation, Hon. Viliame Gavoka, said the academy will play an important role in supporting industry growth.

“Globally tourism is expected to grow even as we recover,” he said.

“Whilst it presents both opportunities and challenges, the opportunity is to invest in people, their capability and creating quality jobs in the tourism sector.

“The challenge is that, to support growth and to achieve tourism sector competitiveness and sustainability, we need the right human capital base that meets current and future market demands and ultimately, enhances competitiveness.”

Gavoka praised Marriott International Fiji Hotels for the initiative.

“It is a testament to investing in local talent, training and equipping people with skills which would see them kickstart a highly respected and sought-after career, earn for their families, support their communities and contribute to the nation’s workforce,” he said.

“It is pleasing that the Academy is not only focused on nurturing young talent, but it is also designed to upskill and train the resort’s current and long serving associates through rotational training and also serve as a platform to empower and equip our women and girls into the tourism workforce.”